Angela Walker – February 2019
Family law clients routinely come to our offices with the initial belief that they want a court outcome. For many, the perception is that a court process will deliver a fair, just and effective result.
We routinely discuss, in our first meetings with clients, all the reasons why exploring other methods of dispute resolution may lead to a more satisfactory outcome. In most cases, court really is a last resort.
Here are ten reasons to avoid a family court process:
- A court process is typically much more expensive then an alternative form of dispute resolution. A great deal of preparation time must be spent by lawyers to effectively present a case in court.
- It can take a long time to get a final court date. Court can be further delayed or adjourned for unexpected reasons.
- You may end up with an outcome that is not workable for either party, particularly if you are asking the Court to decide what parenting schedule should be in place.
- Court is a public process. The family courthouse is open to members of the public who can come and watch a trial or hearing.
- Evidence in court is constrained by strict rules. You will not necessarily be able to tell the Judge everything you think is relevant. For instance, you cannot tender hearsay – that is statements made by a third party or a child, except in certain restricted circumstances.
- There is a large emotional cost associated with going to court. Going to court is stressful! You will be cross-examined on your evidence.
- Court processes can further fracture relationships with your ex-spouse. This can be particularly problematic if you have children together that will require ongoing communication and collaboration.
- It can take a long time to receive a decision. If a Judge does not make a ruling immediately after a trial has concluded he or she may prepare a written decision. This can take up to six months to receive.
- If you are unsuccessful, you may be ordered to pay a portion of the legal costs of the other party.
- If one party is unhappy with the outcome and a legal error has been made, an appeal could follow. While successful appeals in family law are difficult to establish, this can serve to further prolong the uncertainty in your life.